A meaningful way to honor the lives of our loved ones is by celebrating who they were as individuals, and what made them special. Whether it’s been days, weeks, months or years since the passing of your loved one, a one-of-a-kind celebration of their life can be a beautiful way to honor their memory.

The world has changed enormously over the last 20 years, but many funerals don’t reflect how the world has changed. We live our lives as individuals more than ever before, respectful towards but often independent of the religion or culture we grew up in.

Religion and culture are still important to many, but today we make our own meanings of our own lives, living them according to our personal values and beliefs.

As we make our own way in life, so we need new ways to say goodbye at the end of life – new ways to celebrate the lives we live, the people we affect and the difference we make.

1. Create a Quote Board

Ask family and friends to share a quote that represents your loved one. The quote can be from their favorite book or poem. It could also be a phrase that they used frequently or a quote that reminds you of them. Tag a whiteboard, chalkboard, fabric or wood board with the quote. You can even create an online memorial page to gather quotes. You may even want to print a book with all the quotes, it’s a great keepsake.

2. Put Their Name Amongst the Stars

Buy a star in your loved one’s name. Choose the constellation, receive a sky chart and certificate, and view the star online through the Worldwide Telescope with family and friends.

3. Decorate a Memorial Tree

Choose your loved one’s favorite tree in the backyard or bring one to the celebration of life. Decorate it with mason jars or notes and memories of the your loved one. If the tree is on your property you may want to place a memorial plaque honouring your loved one. (insert and tag a pic of a memorial tree)

4. Video Montage

Collect photos from friends, families, colleagues and school chums and create a video montage of your loved one.  Short videos with messages or memories is a great way to include people in your celebration of life. Not only can you show this at the celebration of life but post it to social media or watch it on anniversaries, keeping your loved one’s memory alive.

5. Candle Lighting Ceremony

A lot of ceremonies and events include candles. Candles can hold spiritual and religious meaning and they can also create ambience and warmth to any space. A great way to include family members who may not want to speak at the celebration of life but want to participate is a candle lighting ceremony. They are called up to light a candle in remembrance of their loved one during the formal portion of there ceremony that can be lead by the celebrant or a member of their faith.

6. Spiritual Readings

A celebration of life can be as personalized and unique as the person who has passed. Including poetry and readings is another great way to include friends and family in the event. A lot of people find real comfort in their faith during times of grief and you can absolutely include spiritual elements at a celebration of life. A celebrant can help guide you in finding appropriate readings as well we wrote a whole blog on poetry to get you started.

7. Music and Hymns

From playlists to live music, we always recommend families to include music in their event. It creates atmosphere and affords personal time of reflection during the ceremony. It also can be curated to reflect your loved one. Ask your friends and family to send in their favourite songs that remind them of your loved one, or if there is someone musically inclined in your family you may ask them to perform. You can also refer to our blog the top list of songs selected for a celebration of life.

These are just a few ideas from our extensive experience organizing celebrations of life. If you are thinking of planning a celebration of life and are looking for a helping hand that comes with professional experience, please contact us. We are always happy to discuss your needs and vision with you and see how best we can support you.